Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gobble Cheddar Gobble!

You'll notice that I don't have a turkey as my pictorial representation of Thanksgiving. That's because I am a vegetarian, and I won't be eating turkey on Thursday. But I will gobble gobble!

To make up for the absent turkey, I won't opt for a meatless substitute, like the mysterious tofuerky. Instead, I'll emphasize local, seasonal vegetables and prepare a veggie casserole as the main part of my holiday meal. The casserole will includes Cheddar, of course.

The reason Cheddar entered my Thanksgiving menu at age fifteen has everything to do with the Moosewood Cookbook. This was my first vegetarian cookbook after I read the influential Diet for a Small Planet. Rare is the dish in this iconic cookbook that doesn't call for a cup of Cheddar cheese. Moosewood hearkens back to the days when vegetarians were encouraged to eat complimentary proteins to ensure getting a complete one. So much for the purported benefits of a low-fat, low-calorie vegetarian diet! For its 10th anniversary, Mollie Katzen revised the Moosewood Cookbook, and after that, the recipes didn't call for nearly as much cheese, but I still like to cook the original Chilean Squash, but without the corn. I'm not going to skimp on the Cheddar!

Fearing that I was falling into a Thanksgiving rut, I broke free from Moosewood last year, and turned to my favorite cooking magazine, Fine Cooking, to find a new veggie casserole. The one I chose has a much longer name but almost the same amount of cheese: Butternut Squash, Apple, Leek and Potato Gratin with Cheddar Crust. It was really yummy, and I plan to make it again this year, along an apple pie with a Cheddar crust. We'll also have toasted Cheddar sandwiches one day for lunch, with a choice of my homemade spiced pumpkin chutney (which I fear I made too spicy this year), cranberry chutney from the Union Square farmer's market, and Ploughman's Pickle, made over the Pulaski Bridge in Brooklyn. I am looking forward to trying this seasonal pickle, which, I bought--horrible dictu!--at the beer room at the Whole Foods on the Bowery.

I shouldn't blame the Moosewood Cookbook for all this Cheddar. Cheddar, after all, is the perfect cheese for Thanksgiving. Like the Pilgrims and Puritans, Cheddar was originally English, but became decidedly American. And its sweet and nutty taste and lovely golden hue complement autumnal cooking. Eating Cheddar is like a walk in the woods in the fall, when the sun casts a soft glow on the the turning leaves, and acorns and horse chestnuts crunch under your heavy shoes.

Autumn and its pumpkins will be gone soon, so eat a chunk of Cheddar now!


COLIN said...


kerri said...

hi diana!
found your blog! i love it! you describe everything so eloquently and deliciously!
great seeing you last night.
send me your email. i don't have it....